• 18 vessels
  • 750 employees
  • 24 nationalities
  • 16.8 million cubic metre dredged
  • 15 metres deep

The Sabetta project was Jan De Nul’s biggest logistic challenge in 2016. In Sabetta (North Russia), this port is being built to transport gas stocks from Siberia to Europe and Asia with LNG tankers. Eighteen dredgers had to dredge 16.8 million m³ in only twelve weeks’ time, a very tight deadline that could not be deviated from as after these twelve weeks the entire area freezes up.

The port of Sabetta is to become the central pivot of the Yamal LNG Project. The project includes, among others, the construction of a complete onshore LNG plant. Gas from Siberia will be conveyed to the port through pipelines, where it will be liquidised into LNG. Subsequently, the gas will be transported to Asia and Europe using LNG tankers.

Sabetta is situated in North Russia, on the north-eastern part of the Yamal peninsula in Siberia. It can be reached by ship via the northern sea route but only in the summer months July, August and September. In the rest of the year, the route freezes up, such that the annual dredging period is very short. Yamal LNG will be the first LNG plant above the Arctic Circle, a world premiere.

IMPRESSIVE COLUMN

The vessels of Jan De Nul came from all over the world so as to be able to execute as much dredging work as possible within the short time frame of twelve weeks. Eighteen vessels, sailing from among others Indonesia, Senegal and Dubai, gathered in Murmansk, the final ice-free port on the route towards Sabetta. Guided by experienced local pilots during early July sailing for almost four days, all vessels headed in an impressive convoy for Sabetta.

The eighteen vessels were divided in two groups for the actual dredging works. One group of thirteen vessels dredged the access channel up to the LNG site, including a basin to be used as future turning basin for LNG tankers. The second group worked of five vessels dredged some 100 miles or 10 sailing hours further on to form a 50-km sea channel. Two autonomously executed projects but with permanent contact between both. The basin was deepened up to 15.2 metre. The access channel was widened to 315 metre and deepened up to 15.1 metre. The sea channel was widened from 210 to 295 metre and deepened to 15.1 metre.

“We did an excellent job”, says project manager Dennis Veeckman. “From crew to executive staff, everyone did his or her job very well within a very short time. On average, 360 people were active on the eighteen vessels every day. In all, about 750 people were flown in and out over the period during which we worked there. For many young employees, this project was a great adventure, journey and all.”

"For many young employees, this project was a great adventure"

DEADLINE

According to Works Manager Kleo Danau, the deadline was by far the most difficult aspect of the entire project. “It was a deadline that could not be tampered with, the vessels had to get out in time before the sea would freeze up again. It was a constant assessing and re-assessing so as to be able to leave in time. Fortunately, we had captains on site with more than 20 years of experience who remain level-headed in any situation.” In 2017, Jan De Nul will complete the final stage of its works in the port of Sabetta. The access channel to the port will be widened from 315 to 495 metres. The sea channel will be completed.

The first phase of the onshore LNG plant will be operational by the end of 2017. Yamal LNG will produce 16.5 million tonnes of liquefied gas per year. 

Related articles

Permafrost

Another challenge of the Sabetta project was the amount of permafrost that had to be dredged. Because dredging works in the high North are very rare, this was a first for our company. Permafrost is frozen soil that never thaws, in this case mainly frozen…

Read more
Crucial preparations

“We dredged round the clock, 7 days a week”, says Works Manager Kleo Danau. “This means that planning was crucial. Every vessel had to keep the others permanently informed. That was not always easy, internet or phone connections sometimes…

Read more
Close to colleagues

Koen Van den Berghe is captain on the hopper dredger Francis Beaufort. “For me, it was an exciting project.  As a captain, I’m always the middleman, I consult with both staff on board and onshore staff. Now, I maintained very close contacts…

Read more
Bucket list

Saying it’s cold in Sabetta really is an understatement. In winter, temperatures drop to -25 degrees Celsius, and in summer, these may rise up to 10 degrees. In winter, it stays dark all the time. In summer, it never gets dark. Pieter Timmermans:…

Read more
Turnips, carrots and potatoes

Given the remote location, far from civilisation, the entire fleet had to be completely self-reliant. All auxiliary tools and spare parts were divided over the vessels and transferred from one vessel to another whenever needed. In 2016, Sabetta already…

Read more